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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 6/7

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The internet was reflective of the world this week. All four officers involved in George Floyd’s death have been charged, Friday would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, Iyanna Dior was the victim of a transphobic attack, “Black Lives Matter” was painted outside of the White House and the DC chapter of Black Lives Matter said it’s “a performative distraction from real policy changes,” and the New York Times newsroom is in revolt. 

Some of the links on this list are new from this week and offer educational, legal, and other resources or information. Others are older but relevant to conversations happening now. We are all at different stages of learning and becoming politically active, but I hope everyone can find something of use here. This is also a very short and incomplete list, and there is a lot more information and ways to help out there. These are resources that I have found helpful for understanding racism and activism, and that I have found helpful for processing 2020. 

Highlights: The past six months, the need for accomplices and not allies, the psychopathology of whiteness, the uprising, @urdoingreat, Black revolutionary texts, Black longform and literary journalism, national resources for the current protests, and the Criterion Collection.

 

Protesters gather Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)

1. Columbia Journalism Review: The Story Has Gotten Away from Us

It is hard to remember 2020. So much has happened in the past six months that the people who get paid to keep track, journalists, “have used the word overwhelming to describe this moment.” Journalism tells stories, and “for the most part, journalism has decided that the coronavirus and the killing of George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old Black man, in Minneapolis, are two distinct stories. That’s fiction. Floyd’s murder, under the knees of a white police officer—and the demonstrations in response—occurred as part of a cascade of events. There is the history of systemic racism in America, police brutality, and protest. There is the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and its economic effects.” 

It has been hard to keep track of, let alone process, 2020 and what has taken place so far. Betsy Morais and Alexandria Neason chronicle this year and its “web of connections [that] is intricate and vast” in this article—the background shifts and gets darker as time progresses. 

Image: A group of protesters surrounded several National Guard vehicles that were driving on Lake Street towards the blockade under the Hiawatha Light Rail station and forced them to reverse out in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday, May 29, 2020. A peaceful protests turned increasingly violent in the aftermath the death of George Floyd during an arrest. Mayor Jacob Frey ordered a citywide curfew at 8 p.m. local time, beginning on Friday. (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

 

2. Indigenous Action: Accomplices Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex

There are a lot of lists and articles and social media posts floating around about how to be a good ally. Yet allyship is fraught. This article, written from an indigenous perspective, outlines how “the ally industrial complex has been established by activists whose careers depend on the ‘issues’ they work to address. These nonprofit capitalists advance their careers off the struggles they ostensibly support.” Further, these allies “build organizational or individual capacity and power, establishing themselves comfortably among the top ranks in their hierarchy of oppression as they strive to become the ally ‘champions’ of the most oppressed. While the exploitation of solidarity and support is nothing new, the commodification and exploitation of allyship is a growing trend in the activism industry.” Many of the trainings and workshops that people attend to become “good” allies can also add to this commodification: “Where struggle is commodity, allyship is currency.” 

Allies are not enough—we need to become accomplices. “The risks of an ally who provides support or solidarity (usually on a temporary basis) in a fight are much different than that of an accomplice. When we fight back or forward, together, becoming complicit in a struggle towards liberation, we are accomplices.” 

There are different modalities of allyship, including missionaries, intellectuals, gatekeepers, and more, which this guide expounds upon. One of the reasons I find this article particularly useful is that it helps me reflect on how to position myself when I am offering support for a cause, issue, or identity that I might not be affected by or hold. I need to make sure that I am acting as an accomplice and not an ally when it comes to issues affecting indigenous communities just as non-Black folks need to reflect on their positionality when supporting Black lives. 

 

3. Longreads: Whiteness on the Couch

This article from last August has one of the best definitions of whiteness I have seen, and I included it in my column when the essay was first published. Natasha Stovall, a clinical psychologist, questions “What if whiteness is the thing” that many of her patients are struggling with:

“Whiteness appears in no therapy manuals, is absent from catalogs of psychological ailments, is rarely mentioned as a factor in diagnosis or treatment, yet we know it when we see it. Patient is irritable, defensive, obsessive and grandiose. Ego orientation fluctuates between superiority and vulnerability, with an underlying paranoia (trauma related?) focused on external threats and characterized by fantasies of domination, invasion and annihilation. Under the microscope, racism and white peoples’ ancient dance with it looks an awful lot like what in other contexts — an inpatient ward, a group therapy session — would be classified as psychopathology. Whiteness is self-perpetuating yet self-defeating yet self-reinforcing, inseparable from power yet quick to decompensate… [white people] are a danger to ourselves and others, from the defensive neurosis of white fragility to the paranoid brutality of mass incarceration and Jim Crow, down the psychotic-sadistic rabbit hole of chattel slavery, through the looking glass to the stone cold delusion of racial superiority itself.”

Knowing Black history is incredibly important, but so is understanding the insidious nature of whiteness. 

 

4. The Paris Review: American Refugee

I’ve had a hard time doing as much research and reading as I normally do, and it is hard for me to get through most articles right now. 

I found this essay via Twitter, and it was such a beautiful and refreshing read. Venita Blackburn meditates on racism as “an integral part of the American experiment” and the role of time in the present moment. “Black Americans have been citizens of a nation without a country for a very long time,” living in a land of institutionalized racism where “oppressed citizens of that nation possess no country.” In this essay, Blackburn declines to “evoke any adages of wisdom or recount the overwhelming narratives of police violence because the hour calls for imagination, not nostalgia. Nostalgia is a paralytic curse as productive and healthy as consuming the meat and wine of a dream. We don’t need to dine with ghosts.” We need to reflect and learn from the past, yet not be consumed by it. “When we carry the past objectively into the present with honesty, our memories become assets. A nation must remember its whole history fully without judgment to guard against reliving previous horrors.”

The current uprising is taking place because “We are done watching endless videos of our torture and death. We are done with echoes of civil rights greats. We are done blocking the swords of disinformation. The past has happened. Accept it. We need to bend a knee to leaders with clarity and foresight. We must envision a future not divorced from or traumatized by or nostalgic for our past but thoroughly informed by it, so that we may all feel the earth under our feet and call it home.”

 

5. YouTube: Small Doses Forum: UPRISING

Among the many roles Amanda Seales takes, she is the host of the podcast Small Doses. This week, the podcast hosted a forum conversation on YouTube live, answering questions from members of her SFB Society app. The questions address the recent uprisings, education, voting, Black media, and much, much more. The end also includes a list of organizations people can get involved with or donate to. Skip to the 16-minute mark for the main conversation to begin. 

 

6. Instagram: @Urdoingreat

I’ve been following this account since around December, and Gem is amazing at explaining the basics of anticapitalism, pro-Blackness, and anarchism through TikTok videos and memes. While only so much can be said through short Instagram and TikTok posts, more information and resources can be found through Gem’s story highlights, and the account offers insight into their specific ideologies. 

7. Google Drive: black revolutionary texts

For people asking any Black person what they should read right now, well, there is a whole lot you should read. Alijah Webb compiled this public Google Drive folder for Black revolutionary text that is a good start for anyone who feels the need to ask that question. This folder includes writings by Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Malcolm X, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston and so many more. Read any of them, read all of them. 

 

8. Google Drive: Longform & Literary Journalism: A Reading List of Black Writers

Erika Hayasaki, a professor of literary journalism at UC Irvine, compiled this list of longform journalism by Black journalists and essayists “who have long covered many of the same issues raised in the recent protests. They write about black lives. They write about injustice and protest. They also write about quiet, meaningful moments.” This list is incomplete and there is more to come, but if you are a person that finds academic articles challenging to understand or get through, this is a great resource. 

 

9. Google Drive: Natl Resource List #GeorgeFloyd+

This Google document is a list of national resources including information on what to do if you are detained, protest tips, organizations to donate to, and how to get involved if you can’t donate or protest and more. The editor of this doc has started transferring this info into a spreadsheet which will be updated futher.

Here is another set of resources, organizations, and Black-owned businesses to support in Baltimore—a list that links to other lists, including food writer Arli Lima’s roundup of Black-owned restaurants in this city.

 

10. IndieWire: Criterion Lifts Paywall to Stream ‘Daughters of the Dust’ and More Black Films for Free

The Criterion Collection has lifted the paywall on many movies by Black and white filmmakers that explore the Black experience, so you can now watch them for free with no subscription. These include films by “early pioneers of African American Cinema such as Oscar Micheaux; classics by Maya Angelou, Julie Dash, William Greaves, Kathleen Collins, Cheryl Dunye, and Charles Burnett; contemporary work by Khalik Allah and Leilah Weinraub; and documentary portraits of black experience by white filmmakers Les Blank and Shirley Clarke.”

The Collection has also established “an employee-guided fund with a $25,000 initial contribution and an ongoing $5,000 monthly commitment to support organizations fighting racism in America, including bail funds, community organizations, legal defense funds, and advocacy groups that address police reform” according to the company’s statement.

 

Images taken from referenced articles. Have a suggestion for next week? Email afoehmke@bmoreart.com with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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